To old-school horror fans, the widespread use of computer-generated imagery in modern movies has deprived Hollywood of its ketchup-splattered, cornstarch-thickened soul.
Canadian indie flick WolfCop, the hairiest thing to come out of Saskatchewan since the Sheepdogs, relies on entirely practical effects to tell the gory tale of a witless small-town police deputy who transforms into a crime-fighting lycanthrope.
Leo Fafard plays Lou Garou, an alcoholic nebbish who somehow manages to maintain a job as a cop in the fictional town of Woodhaven and doesn't seem bothered by the fact his name is French for werewolf.
After getting sent to investigate a noise complaint outside of town, Lou wakes up in his bed with a pentagram carved into his chest. That night, he begins to undergo a transformation not too unlike the one David Naughton experienced three decades ago in An American Werewolf in London -- with the key difference being the choice of anatomy that first begins to take on a different form. Think American Pie, as opposed to American Werewolf.
Anyway, Lou the WolfCop turns out to be way more aggressive and effective than Lou the loser, thanks in part to the invigorating effects of doughnuts and alcohol. He begins to impress his no-nonsense partner Tina (Amy Matysio), romances femme-fatale bar owner Jessica (Sarah Lind) and tries to unravel a mystery that causes the periodic cancellation of the most important event in town, the annual Drink 'n Shoot.
He also happens to hack and slash his way through the same cast of villainous bad guys that shows up to fire machine guns at every movie hero in TV and cinematic history.
WolfCop joyfully recycles elements of pop-culture sources as disparate as Teen Wolf, FUBAR, Robocop, Bad Lieutenant, Popeye comics, Twin Peaks, the Bob and Doug MacKenzie episodes on SCTV and every library-research sequence that occurred during the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Writer-director Lowell Dean obviously wasn't worried about originality when he created this comedic grindhouse flick. He was trying to have some fun with the concept of a self-consciously bad movie. But he doesn't quite manage to be funny, edgy or disturbing enough to pull it off.
Dean's script has the conventional quality of episodic television; a movie with the name WolfCop ought to be way more out there. He also seems to shy away from embracing the essentially Canadian nature of the flick, setting it in a generic North American town while it was filmed in Moose Jaw and Regina. At least he did choose to use Gowan's Moonlight Desires as the soundtrack for an uncomfortably furry sex scene.
The best thing you can say about WolfCop is that it isn't much of a commitment. At 79 minutes, it's not going to ruin your night.
A sequel is already planned, so Dean has a chance to take the gore and weirdness to another level. The first instalment in the WolfCop chronicles is only for committed Canadian indie fans -- and horror-movie purists eager to see what damage can still be wrought with practical effects.